The Secret Soldier (A John Wells Novel) Hardcover – February 8, 2011
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"In An Instant" by Suzanne Redfearn
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- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Hardcover : 401 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780399157080
- ISBN-13 : 978-0399157080
- Publisher : G.P. Putnam's Sons (February 8, 2011)
- ASIN : 0399157085
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.5 x 10 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,294,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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As The Secret Soldier opens, a Saudi jihadist cell massacres the young people at a popular bar in Bahrain. Simultaneously, two other sites, both inside Saudi Arabia, are attacked, with lethal consequences. These terrorist attacks represent a dangerous threat to the Saudi monarchy. King Abdullah must take action to forestall additional attacks—but he can't trust his own security forces. Enter John Wells.
Now well into his forties and retired from the CIA, soldier-spy John Wells simply cannot resist any opportunity to chase after danger. Together with an old Special Forces colleague, Wells has gone off to chase a rogue CIA agent in Jamaica. Now a mysterious phone call draws him into the orbit of the Saudi royal family.
John Wells has years of experience both as a soldier and a spy. "He knew who he was," Berenson writes, "what he'd done. After so much violence, killing came to him naturally. He'd always imagined that he could take off the killer's mask as he wished. But he feared the mask had become his face."
The scene shifts rapidly from Bahrain to Riyadh to North Conway New Hampshire to Montego Bay and on and on. Berenson's story moves along all across the globe at a blistering pace.
The author writes at some length about the Saudi royal family and the divisions within it. The oil wealth the country's fields generate is difficult to comprehend. As he explains, after all the expenses for running a country that covers almost as much territory as the United States east of the Mississippi, "at least fifty billion dollars remained every year for the family to divide. Every prince received a stipend. Third- and fourth-generation princelings got $20,000 to $100,000 a month. Senior princes received millions of dollars a year. At the top, Abdullah and the other sons of Abdul-Aziz had essentially unlimited budgets. Abdullah's Red Sea palace complex in Jeddah had cost more than a billion dollars." To put this information into perspective, note that the Saudi royal family consists of some 15,000 people, although most of the wealth goes to about 2,000 of them.
Berenson also offers a glimpse into the NSA, which in its early days was known as "No Such," since its very existence was classified. "The NSA monitored phone calls, e-mails, instant messages, Facebook updates—a digital tidal wave. Tens of billions of messages, open and encrypted, were sent every day. The NSA spent massive energy just figuring out which ones to try to crack. At any time, one-third of its computers were deciding what the other two-thirds should do."
Now, that being out of the way I will continue!
John Wells is on the outs with his old service, the CIA. He's basically on his own, which is okay, up to a point. At least he isn't answering to the men who rule from behind desks and have no sense of being in the field, where lives hang in the balance and can turn on a dime. In The Secret Soldier, he is encouraged to hear a sales pitch from someone so powerful and rich that when he asks for $1 million, that is no problem. His curiosity piqued, he flies in luxury to Saudi Arabia and meets with the aging king who cannot trust his own men, or family. He wants his son to become king, but the rules are not that simple. Succession is determined among the king's brothers and there is intrigue in court, plotting against him. He needs an ally, and who better than John Wells? Wells is recommended to him and because Wells had converted to Islam many years ago, the monarch trusts him.
Qaeda is determined to discredit the House of Saud and bring about a holy war that will destroy America.
In this book, we find that Wells has quit the Agency because of the duplicity engaged by the CIA's director Vinny Duto in the previous book, The Midnight House, which almost got Wells killed. There have been several terrorist attacks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for which no one has claimed credit, but which has made the Saudi king, King Abdullah, very nervous. He is ninety years old and in ill health, and has declared that he intends to appoint his son, Khalid, as his successor, rather than the King's brother Saeed, who has been looking forward to becoming king for many years. Has this angered Saeed so much that he has ordered these attacks? If not, then who's behind them. But if so, have the hired terrorists gone beyond the scope of their contract with their own secret agenda, and now must be reigned in or killed?
Wells' old "friend" Pierre Kowalski, an international weapons dealer, is contacted by Abdullah to have him get in touch with Wells. Wells is brought to the King's yacht in Nice where he learns the purpose of his visit. He agrees to take the job despite no longer having the backing of the CIA. But as Wells gets into his investigation, he soon realizes that more than one country is involved, and the planning seems to be leading towards an all-out war between America and Islam.
So, following the leads that the terrorists have inadvertently left, Wells investigation takes him to Lebanon, to Cyprus, back to Lebanon, and with the final action and climax taking place in Saudi Arabia. Some of the reasoning on Well's part seems to be a little far-fetched, but of course it works well because that's what the reader wants to happen. There is lots of action and the book moves very fast, a good page-turner. There is also a bit of a primer on the background of Saudi Arabian history and the different sects of Islam and other cultural history which I found very interesting.
Top reviews from other countries
the minds of Muslim terrorists. John wells has infiltrated terrorist cells
and passes himself off as a Muslim terrorist. It helps, probably, that
he believes in and follows the Koran. He is on dicy ground as they
know he is an American; as indeed he is, reporting back to CIA handlers
not all of whom trust him. Not fully trusted by either side it makes
very interesting and absorbing reading. You can read them in order or just take them as they come.
Right from the beginning this book had a fast pace. It grabs you buy your throat and does not let go rite until the end. It develops the main character, John Wells, much further with new insights to him. Alex Berenson does a fantastic job weaving recent history into the story with twists which I found compelling.
If you have not read any of the previous books don't worry this book does stand quit well on it's own and could be a great introduction to one of my favorite writers.
Would recommend this one and have already downloaded book 6
If you like scott harvarth and mitch rapp books you'll enjoy the John wells books too